STARKVILLE, Miss. - Bragging rights will be at stake Thursday, when the No. 10 Mississippi State men's tennis Bulldogs (4-0) take on the No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels (2-0) in the 16th edition of the River Hills Cup in Jackson, Miss., at 5 p.m. CT. State has won three-straight in the always-heated series.
State enters the match after defeating the 25th-ranked LSU Tigers and the 21st-ranked Auburn Tigers the last weekend of January to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Seattle, Wash., for the first time since 1999. Ole Miss will come into Jackson after wins against No. 44 Columbia and No. 41 North Carolina State, which advance the Rebels to Seattle as well. The National Indoors are Feb. 15-18.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs Thursday night will be freshman Romain Bogaerts, who is ranked 25th in the nation. The rookie is 4-0 on the season, with three of those wins coming at the No. 1 spot. Bogaerts is also the first freshman in the Per Nilsson era to start 3-0 at the No. 1 position.
MSU's 81st-ranked Malte Stropp continues to be a strong veteran leader for the Bulldogs. Stropp is 4-0 for the season, with all of the junior's victories coming in straight sets. James Chaudry, one of two seniors on the 2013 Bulldog squad, has put together a strong 3-1 record at the No. 3 position.
State freshmen Jordan Angus, Stefan Vinti and Pedro Dumont will also make the trip for the Bulldogs to Jackson. Angus is a perfect 4-0 for the season, one of three MSU players to hold that record so far. Vinti's 6-0, 6-3 dominating win against LSU's Mark Bowtell clinched the Bulldog's victory against the No. 25 Tigers, while Dumont has won two straight.
The No. 28 doubles squad of Angus and Stropp are 3-1 on the season, including a ranked victory against No. 33 Chris Simpson and Stefan Szacinski of LSU. The duo also fell just short of taking down the second-ranked doubles squad of Dan Cochrane and Mies of Auburn in their last match, falling 8-7(3).
The Rebels are led by the trio of No. 5 Jonas Lutjen, No. 33 Nik Scholtz and No. 95 William Kallberg. All three are 2-0 for the season. In doubles, Ole Miss boasts two ranked pairs, with the No. 25 duo of Kallberg and Adrian Skogeng along with the No. 43 tandem of Scholtz and Lutjen.
"The River Hills Cup is probably one of the most intense sporting events I've ever been part of," coach Per Nilsson said. "These are players that you might see on television in a few years and the level is really high. Any tennis fans or sports fans in general would love coming to the River Hills Cup."
Tickets for Thursday's River Hills Cup battle are $30 and can be purchased at the door.
Live stats will be available at HailState.com, while fans can receive live in-match updates via Twitter at www.twitter.com/mstatemt.